Obedience to authority

Essay by champrockCollege, UndergraduateA+, December 2002

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The research of group conformity and obedience to authority in cults is the topic that I am highly interested in writing about. Two aspects that are important in group behavior are conformity and compliance. Both conformity and compliance are common in all types of groups, but first it is imperative to point out the differences between these two types of behavior. Conformity within a cult forces members to change their attitudes and beliefs in order to match those of others within the group, which are engraved by the leader.

The research of cults can easily be related to the concept of obedience to authority expressed in Stanley Milgram's experiment. The leaders of a cult often put their new members in situations that pit personal beliefs against the beliefs of the cult. In order to join, members may have to change their name and can even be assigned a person to marry.

The obedience and conformity of cults can also be compared to Erich Fromm's essay. Most of the decisions to comply with the authorities figure in cults destructive to the member and only helped the leader in a positive way.